Learning from Russian President Vladimir Putin's playbook for domestic dissidents such as Boris Nemtsov, Saudi Arabia's King Salman al Saud apparently suggested to President Trump on Monday that an unauthorized team of Saudi operatives may have been responsible for the killing of Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul, Turkey, earlier this month. We can say that because Trump told reporters on Monday that "rogue killers" seem to be the most likely culprits.

Such an insinuation is utterly absurd for three reasons.

[Related: Mike Pompeo to meet with Saudi king regarding missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Trump says]

First off, there's the not-so-small issue of sending a large team from Saudi Arabia to Istanbul and then into the Saudi consulate. Considering that groups such as ISIS and al Qaeda have a pathological hatred for the Saudi royal family (whom they describe as betrayers of the faith) and that Iran's various external action units enjoy targeting Saudi diplomats abroad, access control at Saudi diplomatic facilities is tightly maintained. Correspondingly, any large team that wanted access to and freedom of movement inside a consulate would have to have been authorized by a high ranking Saudi official – probably the minister – at one of the Saudi power house ministries: the foreign ministry, interior ministry, or the GID intelligence service.

None of the senior officials at those ministries would have been so stupid to order this operation without first gaining the approval of King Salman or Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The interior ministry is controlled by a Saudi official desperate to earn Mohammed bin Salman's trust, the GID is controlled by Mohammed bin Salman personally, and the foreign ministry is controlled by a Salman loyalist. To thus authorize Khashoggi's kidnapping or killing without gaining highest approval would be to risk suffering a fate that didn't simply involve the removal of one's head, but also of other body parts first.

Second, the objective evidence does not fit this "rogue killer" assertion. After all, U.S., European, and Turkish intelligence services are now highly confident that the Saudi government both authorized and enacted this operation under bin Salman's authority. It is also likely that the Turkish MiT intelligence service bugged the Saudi consulate with audio listening devices. Thus, while President Trump has good reason to limit the diplomatic fallout here, his suggestion of believing any of this business about a rogue operation is at odds with the evidence.

Third, there's the obvious issue that if the Saudis truly believed that rogue operatives had carried out the operation, they would have dragged those operatives into public view and lambasted them as criminals. While Mohammed bin Salman is far more interested in his own domestic position than the world's fury, his governing philosophy is one of absolute personal authority. If this had indeed been a rogue operation, bin Salman or King Salman would have instantly nuked those responsible.

Remember, because of access control at the Saudi consulate and the rather indiscreet manner by which the assassins traveled, they would not be hard for the Saudi rulers to identify. The Saudi government's public tone would have also reflected this denial, with words of humility and anger at the culprits rather than distraction and deception.